Seal harassed by beachgoers in Bloubergstrand

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An inspector from the SPCA trying to capture the seal. Inset: The Cape fur seal resting on the beach.PHOTOs: SPCA
An inspector from the SPCA trying to capture the seal. Inset: The Cape fur seal resting on the beach.PHOTOs: SPCA

It is said that “curiosity killed the cat”, but in this case curiosity harmed a Cape fur seal last week when the animal came out to the shore to rest on Bloubergstrand Beach.

According to eyewitnesses on the beach, various beachgoers harassed the seal – some even allegedly claimed that the seal attacked them which caused its injuries.

“Even children had sticks and poked the animal,” says an eyewitness who wishes to remain anonymous.

The Cape of Goodhope SPCA says their team had their hands full during the festive season with various rescues.

“With beachgoers flocking to the various beaches around the mother city, our wildlife team was ready and on standby for any calls about wild animals in distress. Such a call was from Bloubergstrand, where a Cape Fur Seal was in trouble. A tired Cape Fur Seal came out to the shore to rest.”

The seal was tired and slightly underweight. It is nothing out of the ordinary for seals to come to the shore to rest and regain their strength.

But this seal was constantly being harassed by beachgoers on Bloubergstrand and the Cape of Good Hope SPCA was called in to come to the rescue.

“Our wildlife team immediately responded to assess the situation. Upon arrival, our inspectors could see that the seal was very exhausted and needed some rest to recover. However, getting rest on this beach was out of the question,” the SPCA says.

Constant harassment

Beachgoers wanted to take selfies with the seal and off-leash dogs were chasing the seal. The safest option was for the SPCA to capture the seal and take it to their wildlife department in Grassy Park to rest and regain his strength without any disturbances in their aqua ponds.

“After a few days of rest and good food the seal was ready to be released. Our team selected a quiet beach along Milnerton, and the seal was successfully released. Without hesitation, the seal left our carrier box and off he went into the sea. A happy ending,” the SPCA says.

The Cape fur seal resting on the beach.PHOTO: SPCA

There were even more reports of seals being harassed in other parts of the city during the festive season.

The City of Cape Town says in a statement they condemn the brutal and deadly attack on a Cape fur seal on 8 January at Monwabisi beach.

Four suspects have been arrested thanks to an anonymous tip-off and the swift response from the SPCA and the City’s law enforcement.

The seal had to be humanely euthanised due to the severity of the injuries it sustained during the stoning.

“This is one of the most brutal attacks on our wildlife in recent times. One cannot fathom the pain and stress the seal had to endure while this was happening. I am shocked and horrified and call on the public to please keep on notifying us when they see animals being attacked, harmed or in distress.

Respect needed

“Cape Town is fortunate to have a coastline that is beaming with wildlife. We need to respect and treasure these animals,” says the City’s deputy mayor and Mayco member for spatial planning and environment, Eddie Andrews.

“We have said it many times before, but I want to remind the public to please keep a safe and respectful distance from marine animals at all times, and to not interfere with or feed them.”

He called on residents to remove pets where wildlife are present.

“Cape Town’s unique location with its pristine coastline and Table Mountain National Park, together with protected areas and nature reserves, requires from all of us to be mindful of our impact on wildlife and to take extra care to live in harmony alongside these creatures.”

What to do when spotting a seal

  • Do not approach or try and get close to any marine and coastal wildlife. Their natural response will be to defend themselves and this may result in aggressive behaviour.
  • Always keep a respectful distance between yourself and any wildlife to reduce stress on the wildlife. Move away if approached by wildlife.
  • Never try and touch, or pose with, any marine and coastal wildlife. This places both you and the wildlife at risk of potential harm.
  • Keep dogs under control by keeping them on a leash and well away from all wildlife at all times. Remove pets immediately from any place where coastal wildlife are present.
  • Never try and feed any marine and coastal wildlife.
  • Do not support the illegal feeding of wildlife for show, such as the seals at the fishing harbours. This is an illegal activity and must not be supported financially or otherwise.
  • In a case of any injured, hurt, or coastal wildlife in distress, contact the City on 021 480 7700 from a cellphone, or 107 from a landline. The appropriate response will be initiated to assist the animal. The public are urged not to act on their own.
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